Under the Constitution, each state establishes the time, place, and manner of holding an election for Senator or Representative unless Congress passes a nationwide change of the rules. State laws on how to register and vote, where to vote, and how and when votes are counted vary widely. COVID and the 2020 elections caused many voting changes and controversies. Few people are more attuned to the challenges of election administration than Kentucky Secretary of State, Michael Adams. In this episode of Early Returns, Secretary Adams discusses voting rules and procedures through the lens of Kentucky’s history and culture. The conversation begins with Mike’s own campaign in 2019 for Secretary of State, a race which focused heavily on election integrity reforms including implementation of a voter ID requirement and bringing the state’s voter rolls into compliance with federal law. Mike shares some highlights from Kentucky’s 2020 pandemic response and what was achieved when a Democratic governor worked with a Republican Secretary of State and a Republican legislature. The 2020 experience had a lasting impact in Kentucky when the Commonwealth enacted permanent reforms in 2021. As the 2022 midterms heat up, Mike shares his thoughts on issues like the H.R. 1 legislation introduced in Congress, continued court battles over redistricting, and campaign finance enforcement. As with all our guests, Secretary Adams ends this episode with some intriguing book recommendations.
About Michael G. Adams:
Michael G. Adams, a native of Paducah, is Kentucky's 86th Secretary of State and the 77th person to serve in that role. Michael attended McCracken County public schools and was the first in his family to get a bachelor's degree. After graduating from the University of Louisville, Michael attended Harvard Law School on low-income aid. Returning to Kentucky, Michael served as Deputy General Counsel to Governor Ernie Fletcher, before moving to Washington to accept an appointment as Counsel to the U.S. Deputy Attorney General in the second Bush Administration. In 2007, Michael began full-time private practice in election law, first as General Counsel to the Republican Governors Association, and later opening a national practice in the field. He has represented several national political committees, numerous national political figures, and statewide campaign efforts in all 50 states. Inaugurated as Secretary of State on January 6, 2020, Michael first pushed his signature legislative issue, Kentucky's first Photo ID to Vote law, through the General Assembly, then pivoted to saving the primary and general elections from the problems that befell other states during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, Adams presented state legislators with the most ambitious election reform plan since 1891, and the bill passed both chambers with near-unanimous support. Michael’s work in making it easy to vote and hard to cheat, and taking Kentucky from the back of the pack to a national leader in election administration in mere months, has earned praise throughout America and across party lines. Michael is happily married to Christina and is the proud father of Lucia. For more information on the Kentucky Secretary of State's Office, please visit: Secretary's Desk - Secretary of State (ky.gov)